Friday, March 4, 2011

REVIEW: Halle Orchestra with Mark Elder

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Thursday February 3

The Halle Orchestra with Sir Mark Elder delivered the goods on March 3.

This concert, part of the 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival, started with Sir Mark Elder introducing the first piece by British Composer Thomas Ades. Ades’ Three Dances from Powder Her Face is a ten-minute suite of three pieces of music from Ades’ chamber opera Powder Her Face. While the opera is scored for a small orchestra, this suite was given a treatment for larger orchestra. The result is beguiling and the Halle brought out the style and texture to great achievement.

Elder appropriately didn’t introduce the second piece which was Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Op 85 with Alban Gerhardt as the soloist. Now, I have to say that I am still stuck with Jacqueline du Pre on this one and no matter how I try; I have difficulty opening up my mind to other propositions. Gerhardt offered a committed performance that was urgent with a touch of anguish; but from where I was seated (stage left), the solos sounded underplayed… my fault.

After the interval came the highlight of the evening, Elder introduced Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 2, A London Symphony. Elder took on the symphony with a classic point of view and infused the feeling of London from dawn to dusk with drama. The orchestra responded with vividness and clarity.

Halle Orchestra
Mark Elder (Conductor)

Adès: Dances from Powder Her Face
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op 85
- Alban Gerhardt (Cello)
Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 2, A London Symphony

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